Cape reacts to activist’s death
Following the passing of Lee County Commissioner Bob Janes, public officials and community leaders from Cape Coral shared their sentiments and hopes.
“Bob was in public service for many years and gave a good part of his life to the people of Lee County and Cape Coral,” Cape Mayor John Sullivan said. “He was a great environmentalist.”
Janes died Wednesday morning at age 78. He represented District 1, which includes Sanibel, Captiva, the Cape and Pine Island, since first being elected to the seat in 2000. He chaired the Sanibel Planning Commission and served as mayor of the Sanibel City Council for three years before his election to the Lee County Commission.
“I think no one can question Bob’s passion for our community,” Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral President Mike Quaintance said. “He was very even-minded and very supportive of Cape Coral.”
As commissioner, Janes served as the fourth vice president and chairman of the Health and Education Committee of the National Association of Counties. He also served on the board of directors of the local American Red Cross.
Janes was an advocate for mental health and corrections services, among other issues, and worked actively for the purchase in 2006 of the Babcock Ranch property. He served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Southwest Florida Work Force Development Board and others.
“Commissioner Janes was always a gentleman first and foremost,” former Cape Coral Councilmember Gloria Raso Tate said. “I served on committees with him, where he was the chairman at the time, and his leadership style was always professional.”
According to Tate, she served with Janes on the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Tate said he helped Cape officials advocate for SR 78/Pine Island Road, and that Janes was an advocate for charter schools.
“He represented his district with dignity,” she said. “He came to any event that he was invited to or felt that the people needed his representation.”
Quaintance pointed out Janes’ involvement with the bridges.
“Toll bridges and stuff like that have always been a source of aggravation for our citizens,” he said. “There have been attempts to raise the price of the tolls over years.”
Janes was aware of the possible burden a hike could be for residents.
“Bob was always supportive of the citizens of Cape Coral,” Quaintance said. “He worked diligently to keep our tolls reasonable.”
He also noted Janes’ role in preserving Babcock Ranch. Once a lease holder, Quaintance said he misses the opportunity to hunt and be an outdoors man on the land, but is glad of what Janes accomplished for the next generation.
“He pushed very hard for saving a large portion of that for future generations,” Quaintance said. “He’s done a lot of positive things.”
Janes is survived by his wife, Lynda, and children, Sandra, Mary and Susan.
“He was a respectful man in a leadership role in Lee County,” Tate said. “He will be greatly missed on the county commission, I believe.”
Quaintance agreed and offered Janes’ family his condolences.
“I think we’re all sorry that Bob has passed away, and I certainly wish his family the best,” he said. “He’s going to be missed.”
According to officials, Gov. Charlie Crist intends to appointment someone to the vacancy left behind by Janes. The person would serve until the November election, when a candidate would be voted into office. That person would ride out the remainder of Janes’ term, which is set to expire in 2012.
Sullivan said he hopes that Crist looks to the Cape when filling the seat.
“I think that we would have a little more representation,” he said. “If we did have somebody from the Cape appointed to that position, they might help us get more funds from Lee County for various projects and such.”
Tate holds a similar view.
“I hope that the governor will look at an appointment for someone to fill the seat from Cape Coral as we are the largest city in the county,” she said. “I believe it would be in our best interest having someone from Cape Coral fill that seat.”